Charlotte Pride organizers dispute extra security at event

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For the first time, the Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade will be declared an extraordinary event.

It will be the sixth time this festival and parade is in uptown.

The special designation gives police more leeway to stop suspicious people and also bans certain items including weapons, backpacks and masks.

Festival organizers said they are disappointed with the designation.

"Charlotte Pride is keenly aware of the implications increased policing may have on our LGBTQ community, especially for (transgender) communities and people of color," according to a statement from Charlotte Pride. "We were disappointed when we were informed on July 14, 2016 that this year's festival and parade might be labeled an extraordinary event."

Security expert Walter Kimble said it is a smart move for Charlotte Pride to receive this designation, especially in wake of recent world violence including the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
 
"It's better to be on the safe side of these events," Kimble said. "I think that it is the proper thing to do to call it an extraordinary event. I think it is going to allow greater proactive police presence to ensure the safety of everyone. That is not to say this is going to be a police occupation. They are going to be there to ensure this is a safe and productive event for everyone concerned."
 
Chris Swecker, formerly of the FBI, told Channel 9 heightened security at events like Charlotte Pride's festival and parade will soon be the norm.
 
"This is the world we live in now," Swecker said. "It is going to be armchair quarterback if something bad happens. No law enforcement agent wants that."
 
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the City of Charlotte are aware of the concerns.
 
"The goal of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is to provide a safe environment for members of our LGBTQ community," Rob Tufano, of CMPD, said. "We have requested an extraordinary event declaration for the upcoming Charlotte Pride Festival. This request is consistent with other similar sized public outdoor events including Speed Street, the CIAA Tournament, Fourth of July Sky Show and New Year's Eve celebration. 
 
"The CMPD will continue to work hard to ensure members of our LGBTQ community have a safe environment in which to celebrate," Tufano added.
 
The Charlotte Pride festivities take place Aug. 20-21.